Posts Tagged With: New Orleans

Happy Friday!

I was hoping to have some updates for this week, but alas, there’s been nothing much to speak of. So in lieu of a long, thought provoking, wit-filled blog post, I will keep it short and sweet this week and post the Circle of Seven Productions’ book trailer for Time Out of Darkness. Of course, the eBook version is still available on several bookseller websites, so I encourage everyone to purchase a copy. The profits from the book are being donated to New Orleans’ “Save Our Cemeteries” charity for cemetery restoration in the very spooky “City of The Dead”.

Secondly, I now have an author page at Goodreads.com. I’m still learning the ins and outs of it and it’s very modest at the moment, but feel free to add me or send me a friend request.

Have a great weekend to all and see you on the flipside!

Cheers and Sláinte!

Wendy

 

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The Dark Side of The Con (or Observations From a Book Con Squatter)

20140514_170102I’ve been in a strange Pink Floyd mood for the last couple of days. It started while I was driving home from New Orleans, LA from the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. It’s roughly a 7 hr. drive from NOLA to my home in Houston. A very boring 7 hour drive, mind you. About 2 hours in, and in a struggle to keep alert, I found my Dark Side of the Moon CD and popped it in. What occurred for the next 5 hours was a continuous loop of DSoTM with my loud vocal accompaniment on “Great Gig in The Sky” and “Brain Damage”. There isn’t much to speak of between NOLA and Houston (although the dead alligator on the side of the road provided a little amusement) and yelling at the top of my lungs is the closest I can get to entertainment and caffeine induced alertness. I’m sure it’s entertaining for the drivers who passed me. However, in the confines of my Silverado quad-cab, it was equivalent to the greatest Pink Floyd concert minus the laser lights and acid trip. In other words, it rocked.

I kicked off last week with the announcement of an anthology I appear in, alongside fellow genre writers and friends Amanda Jayde, Sheila English and Jocie McKade. Time Out of Darkness hit Amazon running and by Sunday we were #45 in our subgroup. We’re out of the top 100 now, but it was great for the few days we were there and I’m sure with the exposure we’ll get at ComicCon next month, that number will jump into the top 100 again. I am very hopeful. This is the first project I’m involved in in which I can have a direct hand in the marketing and getting the word out. I’m invested and I’m happy to be so. I’m also happy in the fact that I might get feedback on the stories. I’m still not sure of my place as a writer and I lack the proper litmus tests to know if I’m on the right track. I’m not even certain if I’ll end up falling into a genre category with my writing. I consider it an amalgamation of literary fiction and historical fiction. It’s definitely historical, but my writing style is so dense that it feels more lit fic than anything. Not sure if there’s even a word for my writing style. I’m on the lookout and will be happy for any suggestions.

So, let’s get to the con! And Con! indeed. (I keep hearing Wm. Shatner’s voice in my head in the iconic moment when he shouts out Khan’s name after Spock dies. But this “Con!” has the same meaning in my head and you’ll soon find out why.) A couple of things I will explain starting off. The 2014 Romantic Times Booklovers Convention is not my first. I can say this is the 3rd time I’ve been to one, although I was only registered for the 2011 Los Angeles convention. I spent the last year unemployed. Forking over $500 for the registration was not fiscally responsible on my part, but other writers paid their dues, in more ways than one. Although I was in the hotel (I paid my share on the hotel bill) and participated in the mingling, the schmoozing, promoting and left with my fair share of swag, I was a squatter at best. Lumping myself into group of the writers that paid for the con feels a little overly pretentious on my part. For clarification, regrettably, I can’t call myself a full-fledged participant of the con.

SWAG, or the real reason I go to these cons.

SWAG, or the real reason I go to these cons.

The week started out great. And to be fair, it remained great. I arrived on Wednesday and by Thursday I was already in the thick of things. To me, going to this convention in particular is more about hanging out with my friends that I only get a chance to see every other year or so. A few of the ladies I hung out with I hadn’t seen in 7 years, a couple others I hadn’t seen since 2011 in L.A. So, it’s about friendship for me. The first full day for me ended with hearing about some recognition our little book was getting. The book cover ended up on a cake, which is pretty bad ass. (I’m not going to repost it here since I didn’t take the pic, but it is on my FB Author Page if you want to take a peek). Heading into Friday was another great experience. Although I didn’t participate in any of the workshops and agent/publishing panels, I kept myself busy in the bar (it was definitely the hub of the con) with talking, rubbing elbows, and Amanda and I took some time out signing our book flats. Again, a first, so I was thrilled and felt like a rock star. Aside from that, we did much people watching and sometimes that’s what it’s all about. Watching how other writers interact is great fun. Seriously. Anytime you think your geek flag is shining too bright, just check out other writers and you’ll know you are in the right company. The other highlight is watching how the other writers promote themselves. This is usually done in the form of SWAG! You know, promotional items that every writer hopes will entice you to buy their book or books. Some of the swag is great, others not so much. Some you can tell the writers spent a lot of money on, others you can tell couldn’t (hey, I’m a poor writer as well. I don’t have several hundred dollars for holographic book flats and personalized matchbooks). Those who don’t have a huge marketing budget, they get creative in their promo items, which you gotta commend. Sometimes it’s as simple as a bowl of chocolate (they get my vote) or a crocheted wineglass cozy. I might go for the LED glowlights because you know, shiny, and I get distracted easily, but it’s the personal touches that readers remember. However, my secret obsession is with pens. I do all my writing by hand. Pens are like the crackpipe that fuels my addiction. So it’s no secret I left with a collection of about 40 pens. (I think I left with twice that many in L.A.) Swag is awesome and it’s only a matter of time before I will have my own personalized swag. Hopefully when the time comes I can be just as clever.

The Giant Book Fair

The Giant Book Fair

Saturday is what some consider the reason the con comes together: The Giant Book Fair. And that’s exactly what it is. It’s a humongous book fair. Just about all genres are represented, although its primary audience is romance. Over the last few years, more teen, young adult and new adult has made its way into it, but romance and erotica is what drives it. It’s the bread and butter, so to say.

This is where I feel compelled to stop for a few minutes. Some things did not happen, shall we say, according to plan in regards to the book fair on Saturday. In years past, the con averaged about 700 or so authors. I hear this year was 2000. Big names showed up. Tickets to the book fair were grossly oversold. Authors were relegated to 2 feet of table room to meet and greet fans. The fire marshal threatened to shut it down and delayed the start by about 45 minutes. There’s a lot of talk on different blogs since Sunday about the fuckups that came out of this year’s book fair, more notably the separation of authors from traditionally published to small press/eBook and self pub. When authors registered for the con this year, they were told that all writers would be in the same room for the fair, a break from their previous year’s tradition of having the eBook fair on a different day. This was a major stepping stone on the con’s part and about damn time many felt. But good intentions rarely play out. When the map of the author placements came out, we discovered that there were 2 different rooms for the writers. Lots of feelings were hurt and disappointments arose, but none so much as the biggest scandal that came out of it in which a convention volunteer told readers that the room for small press, e-book and self-pubs was for “aspiring authors”.

All holy hell broke loose.

I will not spend the rest of the blog discussing what other have been discussing. Google it and I’m sure you’ll find a lot authors weighing in on that. I just want to discuss my own personal thoughts on the choice of wording.

I admit, I am still skeptical of self-publishing. I’m not so old that the new technology scares me. Far from it, but seeing that my goal as a writer when I was young was that of being published, it’s hard to determine yet if self-publishing is taking the hard work out of being legitimately published. That’s every writer’s goal. It’s a goal that one works really hard for. It’s years of honing your craft and sometimes years of going through painful rejection letters. Those rejection letters are what make some writers better. Sometimes it’s because it’s not your time to be published, sometimes it’s just you didn’t find the right publishing house, sometimes it just means you need to get better at it. Sometimes it’s just because the douchebag on the other end didn’t understand your work and didn’t want to take a gamble on it. All the big name writers went through that. And rightfully so.

Self-publishing in the past was considered vanity publishing. It was reserved for those who wrote business books, specialty books of local history, church books and for those who couldn’t get a big publishing house to touch their work but had the $10,000 to fork over to see your book in print. Only people who were SERIOUS in their need to have a book published went through vanity publishing.

Fast forward to the new century. Self-publishing is now considered print-on-demand. Anybody can publish now and only be out a few bucks for each physically printed book. ANYBODY. No longer do you have to consider selling your kidney on the black market to see your name in print. You just have to give up your daily latte. If that. This has been a great advancement because the bottom line is that this has allowed writers to take control of their writing and make the money they rightfully deserve. It cuts out the middle man. And these are good writers who are doing this. There are many, many NYT Bestsellers out there that are going the path of self-publishing. Think of it as a popular musical band who decides to open their own record label instead of using RCA or Geffen. It’s about liberation and being the master of your creative fate.

Me signing book flats.  I'm in a bar, by the way :)

Me signing book flats. I’m in a bar, by the way 🙂

On the down side, there are some really BAD writers out there, which is why self-publishing is still suffering a very bad stigma right now. And not only bad stigma, but downright loathing and aggression from those who are still in the traditional publishing camp. I get it, believe me, I do. I’ve seen some very poorly written self-pubs and with very poorly designed covers (some are so horrible I want to gouge my eyes out). Some will say self-pubbing is ruining the art and craft of writing, and I can agree to a certain extent. On the other hand, self-pubbing is finally giving really great authors a voice and a vehicle to get their work out. There are some really deserving writers out there that had to go the route of self-pubbing simply because a man in a suit in a NY publishing house didn’t “get it”. I commend these writers that took this chance in self-pubbing and they are flourishing in the career they were born to be in.

But the crap is still out there. And that is why I’m so on the fence about it.   But regardless of my fence-sitting ways, when I heard that the room that my friend was in, not only promoting her small press paperback and eBook, as well as our anthology, referred to as an “aspiring author”, I rose up with the same sense of outrage at the affront. Again, I was not registered at the convention, but my book, the anthology I share a ¼ writing credit with, was being promoted. I have been published in 15 university literary journals, small press magazines and e-zines over the last 11 months alone. I have had work accepted by literary projects that have as little as a 1% acceptance rate.

And I was called an “aspiring author.” The fuck I am.

The organizers of the con claim that this was a mistake of one volunteer who “misspoke” and was duly corrected. But it was the insult heard around the literary world. The damage was done. And I’m afraid the convention organizers are going to feel the repercussions over the next year as a result. Many writers are vowing never to go back to the con because of this insult. After all, the con rolled out the red carpet for a certain writer whose name I will not mention, but she made her millions on erotic Twilight fan fiction. While the rest of us are only “aspiring authors”. Money drives this convention. All authors, regardless how they publish, are charged the exact same registration fee. (although self-pubs and small press pub author were charged an extra 20% fee on the books they sold at the book fair, but that’s a whole other different bitch fest). I imagine the con organizers have major damage control to get through over the next year. The next convention will be in Dallas, Tx – my homestate. Still a 5 hour drive at best. I’ve told my friends I’ll be there. I will not pass up an opportunity to hang out with some of the best women on this side of the planet. But if I register for the con is another matter. I might return in my squatter glory. It seems to be working so far. After all, if I’m just an “aspiring author”, why should I pay dues for the country club that rejects me and a certain growing demographic of new and highly successful writers?

Me and Lisa, aka Amanda Jayde

Me and Lisa, aka Amanda Jayde

Oh, and you should see the segregation/civil rights rhetoric that is showing up on some of the blogs by people who weren’t even there. It’s sad and amusing. Mainly sad. But that, too, is another bitch fest for another day.

So, see you in 2015. Maybe. Eh. Who knows? Depends on the cake situation. You know I’ll do just about anything for cake.

Cheers and Sláinte!

Wendy

 

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It’s Alive!

Time Out of Darkness contributors: Sheila English, Amanda Jayde, Jocie McKade, and Wendy C. Williford

Time Out of Darkness contributors: Sheila English, Amanda Jayde, Jocie McKade, and Wendy C. Williford

Just a quick update as I pack for my trip to New Orleans in the morning for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention 2014. Our book is now live on Amazon!

Again, I can’t express how thrilled I am to be a part of this project and see how well it does over the next few months. The book came about as a charity project to benefit cemetery restoration in New Orleans.

I encourage readers to check out these talented writers. Different genres are represented here from horror suspense, steampunk, romance, erotica and literary fiction. There’s a little bit for everyone.

Enjoy and I hope to have a few updates here and there from the convention!

 

Cheers and Sláinte!

 

Wendy

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It’s The Final Countdown!

Every time an exciting event is just around the corner, my brain likes to pick out the oddest songs in its internal jukebox to mark the occasion. One week from now I will be traveling to New Orleans, LA to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, and to celebrate the occasion, my brain has been on constant loop of Europe’s “The Final Countdown” all morning long. Seriously. ALL. MORNING. LONG.

Time Out of Darkness contributors: Sheila English, Amanda Jayde, Jocie McKade, and Wendy C. Williford

Time Out of Darkness contributors: Sheila English, Amanda Jayde, Jocie McKade, and Wendy C. Williford

But the excitement is for more than just the convention. Next Tuesday also marks the publication of the anthology I contributed to earlier this year. TIME OUT OF DARKNESS is four stories inspired by The Brompton Cemetery Time Machine, a mausoleum designed and built between 1848 and 1853 in Brompton Cemetery in the Kensington borough of London, England. While the mausoleum was certainly an odd structure in its day, with its imposing size, polished granite and hieroglyphics on all four sides, it’s the only structure in Brompton that doesn’t have its design plans on file. That, along with the fact the structure has a key which no one possesses, has led to its legend over the last 150 years that its designers, Egyptologist Joseph Bonomi and torpedo inventor, Samuel Warner, may perhaps have invented a time machine instead of the mausoleum for which they were commissioned. (Google it for more exciting theories). Commissioned by a mistress to a famous MP and her two unmarried daughters, some theorist believe the builders used them for their money and gullibility, and what we’re left with today is a time machine in plain sight. And thus, we have the inspiration for our stories.

The anthology, co-authored by Sheila English, Amanda Jayde, Jocie McKade and yours truly, Wendy C. Williford, combines all of our talents of writing steampunk, romance and psychological thrillers and paranormal adventure in one nice little package. Not only does the anthology display our talents of our genres, it will also benefit cemetery restoration in New Orleans. I’m super excited to be promoting this next week at the convention and sitting in at the Romantic Times Book Fair!

The book will be initially released on Kindle on May 13th, 2014, with paperback editions soon to follow. My contribution entitled “The Bitter Taste of Time,” is about an elderly woman still mourning the death of a son who died at the Somme who encounters a man with a fascinating tale of time travel. As he weaves a tale over tea, she allows herself to believe the impossible and contemplates giving up everything she has for one last moment with the son she so dearly loved. The ending will surprise you. Hell, it surprised me when I decided to take it the direction that I took it in. It’s definitely horror/thriller and a nice scary note to end the book on, especially considering half the stories take place in New Orleans.

More updates will come next week on its release day as well as at the convention. Thanks to everyone who checks it out and helps to spread the word.

Until next week, cheers and Sláinte!

Wendy

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A Farewell to Pens ( or Writer’s Block: Ain’t It a Bitch?)

The evil of all evils has returned. The silly of all sillies has befuddle me. The dark passenger of corruption has slipped into my backseat. And nope, I’m not talking about Congress.

I’m suffering a wee bit of writer’s block right now. It hasn’t happened for a couple of years, but it’s gripping me like bad food poisoning in the middle of the night in a house with faulty plumbing. It’s painful and downright stinks.

I was asked last month to write a story for an upcoming anthology benefiting cemeteries in one of America’s spookiest cities, New Orleans, Louisiana. What else can I say about that other than the fact that I felt honored and blessed. I’ve wanted to make my mark on the literary world since I first picked up a crayon, so I know better than to turn down an opportunity such as this: a chance to work with other admired writers, show a bit of diversity with my stories, promote it with my fellow co-authors next spring and really expand my readership as I hit the downward slope of the novel. It’s a big step in the right direction. So, why am I having trouble writing it? Guaranteed publication should be enough of a motivation, but negative thoughts are drowning out the “go me!”s.

I have a great story in mind about a grieving mother tricked by a con-man in a rather infamous cemetery in England. All the elements are there: my setting is in England, I’m writing English characters; I’m writing in 2nd person narrative, I have suspense, drama and mystery. I have a great hook. So what’s the problem?

Granted, I’ve had to take a break from the novel to take on this endeavor. And I’m at a really good place in the novel after having a great month with my October Wine & Write. Like, a really GOOD place with my characters, action, and moving the plot forward. Some writers may say it’s a bad place to stop, but I feel I have a lot to prove with this new short story, so I need to put my entire story telling focus into it. And once it’s over I can get back to the novel, which quite frankly, consumes all my thoughts anyway.

Hell, along with the plotting and writing, I’m even having trouble with coming up with a decent title.

All this whining can be easily categorized as “Writer’s problems”, I’m sure. I want to write something with meaning. I want to write something to impress. Yet, I have fear of letting my fellow co-writers down. This is normal, right?

I know it can be done. It can be done. It CAN be DONE! I’ve been writing solid for the last 2 years. I produced 20 short stories in college, half of which are published or scheduled to be published in the next year. This is only a temporary matter. Right?

Either way, I decided to update my blog today; get my head in the right space for writing and sit down and throw out the excuses. Maybe I just need to open up some whiskey, light a cigar, spear an animal and channel the spirit of Hemingway until I have a first draft. The great thing about summoning the spirit of Hemingway is that you’ll never know what you’ll get in the end. It might be a great story, it might be a shot through the leg, it might be an STD. Let’s hope for the story instead.

Wendy

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The Unpaid Writer Gets Paid!

A lot of people measure their self-worth by how much they get paid at their profession.  As we all know, money obviously means you’re good at something.  (I’m quite sure I learned that on Dynasty when I was a kid.)  Once you establish your worth, rarely do you go below that.  You’ve entered an echelon of either standards, wealth or reputation.  You can be proud to wear your badge.  Shine up your nameplate.  Dust the cobwebs off that neon sign you’ve been waiting years to turn on.  Hoist the flag you’ve been waiting years to raise, the one that’s emblazoned “I AM A SO-N-SO”  I’m finally worth something!

So how much am I worth?  Fifteen dollars.  That’s $15.  That’s the cost of a specialty roll, a spicy tuna roll and glass of water at my local sushi bar.  And regrettably, I have to skip the miso soup to stay on budget.

My sushi dinner at Ginger Lime restaurant in New Orleans, LA.

My sushi dinner at Ginger Lime restaurant in New Orleans, LA.

After 15 months at this publishing game, I can finally claim to be a paid writer.  It’s a small sum, but I don’t care.  I was paid for a story.  And ironically enough, it took me 24 hours to realize I was paid for it.  I received the news last month as I was spending a long weekend in New Orleans with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while.  I’m used to rejection letters.  So much that I know they typically always come in on Sundays.  So, that Sunday morning while discussing how we still needed to go check out a voodoo shop that evening, I received the email.  Assuming it was another rejection letter, I casually opened it.  First word: “Congratulations!”  I thought to myself, okay, this is different.  I read further, and it seems Allegory Online Magazine has accepted a piece entitled “Graveyard Love,” which is about a young woman’s visit to a voodoo shop to reverse a spell that went a little too well.  I was so excited and proud of this, especially since I was currently on my first trip to New Orleans, and the story takes place in New Orleans.  What are the chances?  It wasn’t until the next day while I’m making my way back to Texas that I received an email about my contract.  What?  A contract?  What in the hell do I get a contract for?  After pulling my car over to a Starbucks (because all serious writers go to Starbucks to write and find inspiration), I read my contract and discover I will receive monetary compensation.  I was happy!

A month later, I still am.  It’s a small sum, but I’m not complaining.  When I tell friends or family that I got paid for a story and I reveal the amount, I see that little glimmer in their eye as if they’re not sure if they should be happy or disappointed.  I can tell they want to ask “Is that all?” without it coming out insulting.  But I don’t care.  I feel like I’ve accomplished something.  It’s true, I could make more money doing online surveys in my spare time, but that’s not the point.  Money is not the point at this stage in the game.  My writing credits are.  And now I have three!

I remember in a particularly funny episode of Will & Grace when Karen Walker referred to setting your self-worth as “It’s how you establish your quote.”  Granted, she was referring to a woman’s first marriage and divorce, but the phrase always stuck with me.  I guess I finally have my quote.  It doesn’t mean a lot right now since I’m still submitting stories to mags and journals that can’t afford to pay.  Being published is my quote right now.  And I’m quite enjoying it.

So check out my newly published, first compensated story, “Graveyard Love” at Allegory Magazine while I change my flag from “UNPAID WRITER” to “PAID WRITER”.  Support me with web hits and if you like the story, send a letter to the editor.  Support is worth its weight in gold.

Wendy

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